Life expectancy varies for each person with Alzheimer’s disease. It is seven to ten years for patients diagnosed at age 60.
What is the average life expectancy of Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease can also remain undiagnosed for several years. The average time between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis of the disease is 2.8 years.
The effect of treatment
Treatment will not prevent disease progression. It is also unclear whether the treatment can prolong a person’s life. Ultimately, Alzheimer’s disease will progress and take its toll on the brain and body. As it progresses, the symptoms and side effects will get worse.
However, a few drugs can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease for at least a short time. Treatment can also improve the patient’s quality of life and help alleviate certain symptoms.
What factors affect longevity in patients with Alzheimer’s disease?
Several factors influence a person’s life expectancy.
The age of diagnosis. The age at which you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can have the greatest impact on your life expectancy. The earlier you are diagnosed, the longer you can live. American researchers (Hopkins School of Public Health) found that the average life expectancy of people diagnosed at age 65 was 8.3 years, while that of people diagnosed at age 90 was 3.4 years.
Gender: A 2004 study found that men lived an average of 4.2 years after initial diagnosis. Women lived an average of 5.7 years after their diagnosis.
The severity of symptoms: People with a motor impairment or behavioral disorder such as falling and a tendency to wander or move away, had a shorter life expectancy.
Brain abnormalities: The study also showed a link between brain and spinal cord abnormalities and the length of life.
Other health issues: People with heart disease, a history of heart attack, or diabetes had shorter lifespans than patients without these complicated health factors.
According to another team of researchers, three factors really seem to matter: age at first symptom (older people die faster), gender (men live shorter) and degree of deficit at diagnosis.
A formula to predict the life expectancy in Alzheimer’s disease
Using these three factors, they came up with a simple formula to predict patients’ risk of death. Then, based on these risk levels, patients were divided into four life expectancy categories.
People in the last quarter lived between four and a half and nine years, or about seven years on average, from diagnosis. Those in the first quarter lived between about a year and nine months and five years, averaging about three years.
For example, according to the formula, an 82-year-old woman with mild to moderate dementia should live five years after diagnosis. A 63-year-old man with mild dementia at diagnosis is expected to live for seven years.
« A difference in survival of two to four years can be extremely important for planning the budget necessary for the care of the patient, » says the researcher.
Pneumonia is a common cause of death, caused by swallowing problems that allow food or drink to enter the lungs, where infection can occur.
Dehydration, malnutrition, falls and other infections are other common causes of death.